Great to be back sharing emails with you! I spent most of July out of the office on vacation and study break. It was so fun and refreshing to spend large amounts of time with my wife and children and to spend quiet times at the library and in nature around many parts of North Dakota. God has given me a new love for the people and places throughout North Dakota.
This past Sunday was a first for me. I came off the bench to “pinch-hit” as our scheduled guest speaker had a family emergency late Saturday afternoon. God is faithful, though. I spent Saturday afternoon writing some thoughts down on my computer not knowing when or if I would ever share them. At 6pm Saturday night I found out that God wanted me to share them with you the following day!
So, I shared with you lessons, prayers, and Scripture God brought to my mind last Thursday as I stood by myself at a quiet, rural gravesite, with a heavy heart, staring at the casket of 31-year old Prairie Heighter, Jennifer Rathert Hughes, after her family and friends had left the cemetery. I needed to be the last one to leave so I could process whatever God wanted me to pray, to learn, and to do. As difficult as death is, regardless of the circumstances, it is also a wonderful opportunity for the living to look at God’s plan for us and to make adjustments to our lives if needed.
God reminded me how blessed I am to have you in my life and to have this opportunity to serve as a pastor at Prairie Heights. I was reminded that our church was created to be and IS a place where people who don’t “fit” in traditional churches can “fit.” Quite honestly, I have realized again this summer that I am in the category of people who don’t “fit” in traditional churches with traditional structures, styles, services, programs, priorities, and plans. God renewed my passion to “keep doing what we are doing”, to “love people with no strings attached”, and to invite all people to move beyond being spectators to being active contributors in building God’s forever family. Now is not the time to let up. Lives are at stake. We are part of an unusual moving of God’s Spirit.
I recently read the following article about author Don Miller on cnn.com. Several quotes impacted me when I read this article. When talking about David, the youth pastor who shared Christ with him over 20 years ago, Don said: “He didn’t tell me what to do. He showed me what I could be. He was the kind of guy who showed up to help people move, always rooted for the underdog, and read his Bible so much that he could fold it like a magazine. Being friends with David was an uneven deal. You could not love him like he loved you.” I have to tell you that when I read that a tear came to my eye as God revealed to me how far I have to go on my spiritual journey. I can so easily get caught up in my to-do list and overlook the opportunities around me to be like Christ. And then Miller said about this youth pastor who recently passed away “David would not be interested in a conversation about theology and neither would I. It seems like a distraction in a way if it’s not about Jesus and it’s not about people.”
This Sunday we are back to holding 2 services at 9:30 and 11:00 as I start a new series called PULSE. Also, this Sunday after both services, stop by the booths in the lobby at the PHCC “Heart” Clinic. There will be medical professionals available to talk to you about stress management, nutrition, and your heart attack IQ. Also, have your blood pressure checked and sign up to donate blood at the 2nd Annual PHCC Blood Drive on August 29th and receive a cholesterol screening. (Fact: Did you know every 2 seconds someone in the US needs blood?)
Fall is an exciting time at Prairie Heights. Are you ready? I’m sure looking forward to it!